Teach English in Xinlin Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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#40) The Value of Observed Teaching Practice How being a student gives me confidence to be a good teacher. I believe there is great value in observing a teaching practice. This seems a logical first step in getting to know a job and how others more experienced are doing it. There are many different styles, methods and personalities which can make one classroom a bit different from another. Throughout many years, I have taken some classes in foreign languages in which I have observed the teaching practice. I will discuss what I observed and learned. Studying French in Paris, I observed how the teachers handled the bigger beginning groups, using worksheets in class and for homework. The smaller classes of 5 or 6 were more informal, with more chances to speak and groups and pairs used. I also did private lessons before this. In this last year living in Spain, I’ve taken a few different Spanish classes. Some of the teachers were really enthusiastic and one never smiled and looked like he dreaded every minute. I did group classes and a conversation class. Looking back at all the different teaching environments and styles, I have learned so much about what works and what doesn’t. I feel that these things can really help me as a teacher. With my private French teacher, she started out with nice conversation and then went into grammar, going over what I had trouble with. It was a great approach and one of the most effective classes I’ve ever had. She gave me homework from a good book as well. I would definitely model my teaching style after her in many ways. In the large Paris classes, you really had to pay attention to be able to see and hear what the teacher was doing. Everyone read a bit and everyone read aloud their answers to the previous day’s homework. It was good for those highly motivated. The homework was really necessary to be able to learn as there was not much time in class for the whole class to speak. I felt like it would have saved time by breaking into groups for most of the class instead of going around the room for everyone to speak, since that took a lot of time and was dry and uninteresting. In the Spain classes, the class size was smaller. The book for class and homework was badly designed, hard to read and was not very effective. We skipped most of it. Instead the teachers made photocopies of another book and handed them out to the students. This resulted in students having a lot of pieces of paper to organize. I learned that the book should be clear and concise. In one of the beginning Spanish classes, the teacher was not interested and did not want to be there. He would give us a huge task and then sit for a long time doing seemingly nothing. He wasted a lot of time. The class was frustrating. I learned that you have to keep it fun and engaging, ask how the students are doing when they are working and speak more with the students at a low level. Other teachers at this school were very good. The best one would go around the circle and talk to each person at the start of class. This made everyone feel welcome and acknowledged. If someone wasn’t feeling well, was tired, or preoccupied with some problem, the teacher and the class would know about it and everyone understood what was going on. This made for a feeling of connectedness, brought the group closer and it was easier to have effective and interesting conversations. This teacher never made anyone feel bad. Using short films and music was fun and engaging. (In contrast, another teacher didn’t acknowledge everyone which led to problems later. The more you connect, the more you understand the class.) Another teacher joked a lot. It was fun, but sometimes he would go too far or pick on someone. Sometimes this made students feel very uncomfortable and then they would shut down. This was not a good approach. He also relied heavily on games that were not useful. You can tell when a teacher is just trying to fill up the time. The conversation class was more about doing presentations. I felt that preparing for and memorizing a presentation was time consuming for little gain. Having a real conversation with others in real situations would be more effective. The private tutor I have is very enthusiastic and lets me talk for the entire time. This is great practice but a bit unbalanced. Sometimes she speaks almost the whole time which is great for listening. The teacher wants to be so nice that the lesson just wanders. A better approach would be to have conversation, a bit of grammar and homework. I’ve learned a lot from observing many teachers and feel confident that I’ve been exposed to good skills that I can use. Some of the most important things are enthusiasm, kindness and inclusiveness. There needs to be a balance of conversation, grammar and listening. In private lessons, you should ask periodically what the student would like and how they are progressing. Games, in my opinion, should be chosen well, allow the students to speak and not be uncomfortable. I thought that throwing a ball around the room was not a great game because people were not very good at it so time was wasted finding the ball. Paying attention to each person as an individual is very important. I noticed that pairs seem to be the most conducive for speaking, easy and comfortable. Speaking from your chair is much more comfortable than in front of the class. Comfort is important in teaching as this allows students to open up, try new things and be engaged. Another important thing is correcting the students so they know what is right. Observing teachers to me is one of the most useful ways of learning different styles. It is an invaluable tool and should be included in teaching courses.